Thursday, February 27, 2014

James Price Point Aboriginal cultural leader passes away - ABC Kimberley WA - Australian Broadcasting Corporation

James Price Point Aboriginal cultural leader passes away - ABC Kimberley WA - Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Sunrise in Broome this morning. Damian Kelly Image
He was best known as the face of Aboriginal opposition to gas processing at James Price Point north of Broome, and for being a grandson of celebrated Broome cultural leader, Paddy Roe.

Tributes have flowed today for the man from the Australian Greens with Senator Rachel Siewert expressing deep sadness at the man's passing.

"His courage in fighting the James Price Point Gas hub proposal was inspiring and his leadership was a key to the success of the campaign," she said today.
"His work will long be remembered and respected across Australia. It is a great shame to lose a leader at such an early age. He will be greatly missed."
"I offer sincere condolences to his family, friends and community."

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Rookie coal miner threatens Kimberley’s iconic waterways

·         Project EIS released today for 8 weeks public comment

·         Coal mine proposal threatens Fitzroy River and King Sound National Heritage Sites

·         Monster road trains would create transport nightmares on highway

·         Australia’s most spectacular region too precious to risk on coal mines

Rookie miner Rey Resources’ proposed coal mine and port threatens to damage two of the Kimberley’s most important National Heritage sites, the Fitzroy River (Mardoowarra) and King Sound (Moorrool Moorrool).

Rey proposes to build a coal mine near the mighty Fitzroy River and a coal export facility in the stunning King Sound near Derby.

Carrying the coal from the proposed mine to port would be a road transport nightmare, with 50-80 monster road trains every day trying to navigate a 175km stretch of the flood-prone Great Northern Highway, a popular tourist route and the lifeline for local communities in the Fitzroy valley.

The heavy monsoon rains of the Kimberley make the proposed mine a potential disaster, with a high risk of toxic heavy metals and acid mine drainage leaching into the groundwater and the unspoiled Fitzroy River.

Coal mines have been banned in some parts of Western Australia, such as Margaret River, because of risks to groundwater. The Environment Protection Authority should do likewise with this proposal.

As with Margaret River, coal mining would be a lasting blight on the Kimberley’s international status as a unique and extraordinary destination.

Transport of coal, dust management and the release of heavy metals and coal dust all pose a significant threat to remote communities, the residents of Derby and visitors to the region.

Northern Australia’s healthy rivers are critical for wildlife to survive in the harsh and often extreme climate. The “Mighty Fitzroy” River is the lifeblood of the Kimberley, sustaining one of the most diverse and intact areas left on the planet.

The River and King Sound are home to threatened species including 18 species of native fish found nowhere else, 15 species of mangroves, rare snubfin dolphins, the critically endangered sawfish, freshwater whipray and the threatened purple-crowned fairy wren.

The river flows over 600km through striking boab country with lush seasonal wetlands which link billabongs and freshwater springs and through stunning gorges.

The Fitzroy River, or Mardoowarra (meaning ‘living river’ in Nyikina language), plays a pivotal role in the culture of the Kimberley’s Indigenous people.

For further comment contact:
Wilderness Society Western Australia Campaign Manager Peter Robertson on 0409 089 020

For more information, contact Wilderness Society media adviser Alex Tibbitts on 0416 420 168

Friday, February 21, 2014

Ungani fears hit Buru hard - The West Australian

Ungani fears hit Buru hard - The West Australian

Within the last year alone, there has been a 20% increase in BHP Billiton’s
Western Australian iron ore exports. In spite of this enormous growth,
the company only paid US$29m in minerals resource rent tax (MRRT).
As it stands, the tax is in no way making BHP uncompetitive – its bumper
profits are a testament to that.

While mining companies such as BHP Billiton
are making a motza, we need to be reminded that 83%
of Australian mining operations are foreign owned
. The net income
balance – the difference between the profits of Australian investing
overseas, and profits made by foreign companies in Australia – has
suffered as a result of mining companies extracting greater amounts of
Australian mineral wealth for foreign owners.

From 2003 to 2011, the net income balance
reduced from minus
2% to - 6% of Australian GDP
. In other words, Australia is being held at gun point by day light robbers.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Pillaging The Pilliga | The Global Mail

Pillaging The Pilliga | The Global Mail


For the past four years, Pickard has scouted the forest, a ladder tucked under one arm, and a camera slung over the other. He’s captured images of a turtle, a goanna, and a dozen frogs, all floating dead in the cloudy ponds or wells that litter this coal seam gas (CSG) drilling site.

All this in a "Noah's Ark" for declining bird and mammal specials, as an ecological study released this week called the Pilliga forest.
In recent months, the state government has taken concrete steps to help CSG drilling expand. On September 11, NSW lifted its moratorium on fracking, a controversial method of extracting coal seam gas. The state has granted several new exploration licences and it has renewed others — including the licence that was granted over the Pilliga. And in early October, the NSW Resources and Energy Minister, Chris Hartcher, told a coal seam gas industry conference that he wanted to ramp up CSG production in NSW.

Batgirl shuts down Boggabri coal mine | Mining Australia

Batgirl shuts down Boggabri coal mine | Mining Australia

According to environmentalist group Front Line Action on Coal, activists dressed as bats scaled the coal loader early this morning and unfurled a banner that read ‘Save the Leard’.
The mine has been shut as a result of the action with police forced to remove the protesters after they refused to descend from the loader after more than nine hours.
The activists say they are protesting against Idemitsu’s expansion plans which they claim will lead to the “destruction of the Leard State Forest”.
“Globally, there is only 0.01% of critically endangered box-gum woodland left in good condition, of which the Leard State Forest contains the largest remnant," it said.
"It is time for JBIC and ANZ to stop funding coal projects. It is not worth investing in, especially considering the swell of resistance from local and broader communities.”

'Unjust' mining laws slammed by former judges

'Unjust' mining laws slammed by former "It's time to stand up and be counted," said former Family Court judge Ian Coleman, SC, of his decision to represent landowners without payment as they struggle to deal with "bullish" coal mining companies.

'I just saw more and more of what I thought was an unjust system': former Family Court judge Ian Coleman.
'I just saw more and more of what I thought was an unjust system': former Family Court judge Ian Coleman.
"I just saw more and more of what I thought was an unjust system, and I wanted to help," he said.
"The existing process is such that if you had a dispute with your next-door neighbour over a barking puppy you would have access to a more legal assessment of the issues than some [access matters] being heard at the moment, and some of these are extremely complicated legal matters."
Legislation was inadequate to deal with the reality of a coalmining industry backed by multinational companies, in an era of "super mines", and with governments relying on coal royalties.

Read more:

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Inquiry told fracking wells could be drilled through drinking water aquifers - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

Inquiry told fracking wells could be drilled through drinking water aquifers - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

A WA parliamentary inquiry has been told that wells for fracking to release natural gas could be drilled through public drinking water aquifers.

Roebuck Plains Wet Season image Kimberley Media

The Department of Mines and Petroleum's Jeff Haworth told the inquiry he would prefer energy companies to drill away from public water sources. However, he said drilling may be approved by the regulator, the DMP, if companies met safety requirements on well design.

The department says it believes there has been no drilling for oil and gas in a public drinking water area although there has been drilling in water catchment areas like the Swan River and Whicher Range in south-west WA.The Water Department can advise against fracking below public water supplies but it has no veto over the practice.The Health Department says it is concerned about the impact of shale gas fracking on the environment and public health. Chief health officer Tarun Weeramanthri told the parliamentary inquiry he was worried about the possible contamination of water supplies from chemicals used in fracking and air pollution.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Lateline - 29/07/2013: Climate change could cost 60 trillion dollars

Lateline - 29/07/2013: Climate change could cost 60 trillion dollars

New research published in the journal 'Nature' warns that the release of huge reserves of methane from permafrost could increase the mean global temperature by more than two degress which could wipe 60-trillion dollars off the global economy.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Fire in the hole: After fracking comes coal - environment - 13 February 2014 - New Scientist

Fire in the hole: After fracking comes coal - environment - 13 February 2014 - New Scientist

(Image: Simon Pemberton)

Setting fire to coal underground could answer our energy prayers, or start an environmental disaster on a bigger scale than ever before
IF YOU thought shale gas was a nightmare, you ain't seen nothing yet. A subterranean world of previously ignored reserves is about to be opened up. These are the vast coal deposits that have proved unreachable by conventional mining, along with gas deposits around them. To the horror of anyone concerned about climate change, modern miners want to set fire to these deep coal seams and capture the gases this creates for industry and power generation. Some say this will provide energy security for generations to come. Others warn that it is a whole new way to fry the planet.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Indigenous workers on Inpex project given falsified certificates, say trainees | World news |

Indigenous workers on Inpex project given falsified certificates, say trainees | World news |

One trainee told Guardian Australia, at the beginning of the full-time course she and her colleagues were informed they would not be paid, despite believing other Rockstar programs around the nation gave trainees an allowance. Instead, they were guaranteed employment on the Inpex construction site, she said.
Mick Huddy from the Northern Territory CFMEU told Guardian Australia the union was led to believe funding of up to $5,000 per person was made available for the six weeks.
“But the trainees saw none of that,” he said. “There was no food bought for them for their smoko or lunch breaks, nothing to compensate for their time, they were there for six weeks full time.”

Mining projects: Greg Hunt set to grant himself retrospective legal immunity | Environment |

Mining projects: Greg Hunt set to grant himself retrospective legal immunity | Environment |

Greg Hunt during a press conference in Canberra in 2013. Photograph: Alan Porritt/AAP

Environment minister Greg Hunt is set to grant himself retrospective legal immunity against potential claims that he failed to consider environmental advice before approving key mining projects.

Consumers will foot protest bill of $100k a day, says Santos | The Australian

Consumers will foot protest bill of $100k a day, says Santos | The Australian

SANTOS has warned that protests at its Narrabri Gas Project in NSW -- where seven activists were arrested this week -- are forcing delays and adding costs to its development that will eventually flow to the end user.
James Baulderstone, who heads up Santos's East Coast business, said it cost $100,000 for each day the company was held back from working on the coal-seam gas project in the Pilliga state forest.
 Santos are trying to set up a Gasfield some 860 wells in number, plus pipelines, plus compressor stations, plus power plant (all with fire ban exemption) and New South Wells Government collusion...

Monday, February 10, 2014

The Natural Gas Revolution

Firstly, anti-fracking grievances are broader and deeper than water contamination, well integrity and greenhouse gases. They also encompass land use issues, health and safety concerns, issues of economic development, cultural integrity, political legitimacy and planetary responsibilities. 

Secondly – and crucially – companies have lost public trust by discounting the legitimacy of grievances, prioritising trade secrets over transparency and engaging governments rather than communities. 

This particular industry has underestimated the sophistication, reach and influence of the anti-fracking movement. It is not simply ‘NIMBy-ism’ masquerading as environmentalism, but a diverse coalition of ideological and vested interests unlikely to be swayed by industry-funded studies or glossy public relations campaigns like the document below that was placed in everyone's postal box in Broome this week. 

This APPEA publication and community distribution of this brochure is an indication that the industry is very concerned that Broome and the surrounding communities are not going to be that easily convinced that fracking is  safe. 

The recent Buru Energy's community information afternoon was a specific public relations technique to analyse and research all the relevant factors of concern held by the community about fracking. It was not about informing the community about their intentions, providing the community with the truth or building relationships. It was purely for themselves to gain an understanding of the various constituencies and the key factors that are influencing our community's perceptions and knowledge levels. 

It was also an evaluation of  their proposed in-house strategies and tactics that they believe will feed into the overall success of their fracking is safe sales pitch. APPEA's booklet The Natural Gas Revolution is their response to Buru’s Energy’s public relations campaign. 

A lot of money was spent on this old method of publication, most of which ended up in the bins outside the post office along with all the other junk mail. People do not trust these shining pieces of paper anymore, they do not buy into it. They see it clearly for what it is, a cheap (but expensive looking) con job.  

A notable feature of the any movement in this day and age is the extensive use of online social media to disseminate information, organise and mobilise. Many of the co-ordinating groups at the centre of various national anti-fracking, CSG and Coal movements originated as forum groups, petitions or blogs, professionalising over time as attention and resources flowed into the anti-fracking movement. The extensive use of free or low-cost online platforms – including Google Calendars, Google Maps, youTube, Twitter and Facebook – has both facilitated grassroots participation and helped level the information playing field vis-à-vis the gas industry. 

The Buru gurus will have to do better than that because Broome and the surrounding communities are no longer receptive to these cheap tactics. Woodside and the Department of State Development kicked that innocence and naivety out of us long ago.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Buru's proposed fracking of this amazing wetlands

The people have a right to clean air, pure water, and to the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic and esthetic values of the environment. The Canning Basin is a natural resource is the common property of all the people, including generations yet to come. As trustee of these resources, the state should conserve and maintain them for the benefit of all the people.

This is Roebuck Plains in the wet, the location for Buru's fracking program in 2014

Laurel Formation Tight Gas Pilot Exploration Program

Environmental concerns with fracking of shale include the potential contamination of ground water, risks to air quality, the potential migration of gases and hydraulic fracturing chemicals to the surface, the potential mishandling of waste, and the health effects of these, such as cancer. Many cases of suspected groundwater contamination have been documented. With the explosive threat of natural gas in the public exposure to the many chemicals involved in Canning Basin is expected to increase over the next few years in our community, with uncertain consequences.

The wording Pilot Exploration Program is clearly and simply a corporate managed propaganda, designed to deceive the general public of their true intentions. Buru undertook their pilot program in 2010 – 2013 these activities planned in 2014 are for oil/ gas extractions and infrastructure development. The gas obtained will be marketed.

Buru’s fracking proposal is to undertake over 32 fractures in four existing wells on the Roebuck Wetlands in 2014, two on Roebuck Plains and two in the Fitzroy River Valley.

Buru Energy is proposing to inject 31 million litres of water and 80,000 litres of chemicals and proppants at extreme pressure to fracture rocks to release gas. Some of the chemicals are toxic, one a biocide BE-9 was even banned in Canada in 2000 because of its toxicity and persistency.

The Western Australian Environment Protection Authority has the power and responsibility to assess proposals in Western Australia, which are likely to have a significant effect on the environment.

The public believe that the parliament decided that the EPA's environmental impact assessment process should actually prevent significant proposals from being commenced, and prevent other ministers and government agencies from issuing any other approvals, until the EPA's assessment is complete.

The environmental impact assessment process under the Environmental Protection Act 1986(WA) is therefore the primary, foremost, principal approval process for proposals which may significantly affect the environment, and parliament has required that process to be undertaken by the independent expert EPA.

Yet this latest decision not to formally assess Buru’s Laurel Formation Tight Gas Program appears to be deferring its responsibilities to other, non-expert agencies which may not actually assess environmental impacts at all. These departments seek only a copy of Buru’s Environment Plan.

I do not believe that neither the Department of Water (DOW) or the Department of Mines and Petroleum have the adequate skills or experience or the resources to undertake the assessment environmental impacts at all. These departments might paradoxically decide not to assess environmental impacts on the basis that the EPA found that the proposal was not environmentally significant.

There are no legislative powers that can force these decision- makers DOW & DMP to reconsider the environment, or even recall their own decisions.
By the EPA placing their statutory obligations into the hand of other government departments is another way of ensuring that the public is excluded from all other decisions making processes.

It also is effective in guaranteeing that no community consultations are undertaken and the EPA avoids any social impact evaluations or responsibilities.

DOW and DMP do not have the same powers as the EPA to require the proponent to prepare environmental impact assessments. The EPA can require investigations, further information, and for information to be the subject of independent reviews. No other agencies have these powers at the assessment stage 

Friday, February 7, 2014

Shale Field Stories

Draft regulations that impact shale and tight gas exploration

The public comment period to the 118-page draft regulations, titled Petroleum and Geothermal Energy Resources (Resource Management and Administration) Regulations 2014, closes on May 30.

Buru Energy aims to start a fraccing campaign in four Canning Basin wells starting in April.

Natural Gas From Shale and Tight Rocks - An Overview of Western Australia Regulatory Framework by redhanded8937

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Why does Australian PM Tony Abbott support fossil fuel subsidies? | Alexander White | Environment |

Why does Australian PM Tony Abbott support fossil fuel subsidies? | Alexander White | Environment |

Why are massive $10 billion subsidies for one industry acceptable, but a relatively modest aid package for SPC-Ardmona unacceptable?
No doubt there are many answers to these questions.
One possible answer can be found in the work of Drew Westen, professor in the Departments of Psychology and Psychiatry at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. The author of The Political Brain, Westen describes the neurological differences in the brains of conservatives and (in US terms) liberals.
Westen, and the likes of liberal neuro-linguist George Lakoff, posited that the way that conservatives viewed money was tied to morality.
To very briefly summarise, if a person is rich, it is proof that they are a good and moral person. It demonstrates that they must be hard-workers, wise investors, who are self sufficient and possess personal discipline.
The corollary of this is that poor people, who lack money, also lack morality. To a conservative, lack of money proves that you must be lazy, ill-disciplined, self-indulgent, deviant and dependent on others.
The role of government is to support morality and punish immorality. Thus, people on welfare are immoral and thus should be penalised, while rich people should be further rewarded and incentivised to continue to be moral.
This moral system, in my view, underpins the Abbott's government's approach to corporate welfare, and especially to the environment.
In the conservative world-view, companies like Holden and Ford, or SPC-Ardmona are unworthy of government support because they lose money. By definition, because they need government aid, they're immoral, dependent, ill-disciplined and lazy.
Meanwhile, companies like hugely profitable fossil fuel companies and coal miners like Clive Palmer, are good, moral companies. Their enormous profits are proof of their morality.
What does this have to do with climate change?
The conservative world view is threatened by the very existence of climate change and global warming.
If making money and profits through mining and burning fossil fuels are moral behaviours, but those activities cause dangerous climate change which threatens you and your loved ones, then can it be moral? Any suggestion that fossil fuel extraction is harmful therefore threatens the basis of conservative morality.
If nature and natural resources exist as things to be conquered, exploited or used to make moral profits, then regulation that prevents this by definition is immoral. When it comes to conservation, environmental protection and climate change mitigation, the conservative morality of Abbott sees laws that protect biodiversity and our natural heritage as illegitimate hindrances to the moral activity of making profits.
Regulation is a form of interference in moral activities, and at worst, creates dependency. Renewable energy subsidies and targets distorts the profit-meritocracy.
Tony Abbott will always support subsidies for fossil fuel companies because they are moral companies, although at times his political instincts have made him a weather-vane on the issue.
Support for renewable energy, assistance for disadvantaged people, foreign aid, or industry packages for Holden, Ford and Australian manufacturing should be opposed because it is the role of government to punish immorality, and lack of money is proof of that immorality.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Delegates appointed for Browse assessment

Pages - Statement Details

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

  Three delegates appointed to assess the proposed Browse Liquefied Natural Gas precinct
  Delegates had no involvement in the previous Browse assessment

Environment Minister Albert Jacob has announced the appointment of three delegates to assess the proposed Browse Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) precinct.

Mr Jacob said he approved the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) formally delegating its powers to assess the proposal under the Environmental Protection Act 1986.

The appointments follow an August 2013 Supreme Court finding that invalidated the EPA’s original assessment report and recommendations.

“The three appointed delegates are Gerard Early PSM, Dr Tom Hatton and newly appointed EPA member Glen McLeod,” the Minister said.

“These three delegates had no involvement in the previous Browse assessment and recommendations to Government. I am confident the delegates will provide a well-considered and impartial report on the proposal.”

Canberra-based Mr Early was deputy secretary of the Commonwealth Department of Environment, before he retired to run his own consultancy in 2010.

Dr Hatton is group executive of energy at the CSIRO. He has more than 25 years of national and international research experience and chairs the Marine Parks and Reserves Authority.

Mr McLeod is a well-respected lawyer with 36 years of national and international experience in environmental, planning and government law; the climate change and renewable energy sectors; ports, probity and procurement. He is a member of the Waste Authority and the Botanic Gardens and Parks Authority and was appointed to the EPA in October 2013.

         Fact File
  The EPA has delegated its powers and duties to the three panel members for the assessment of the proposed Browse LNG Precinct and any subsequent derived proposal under section 19(1) of the Environmental Protection Act
  The delegates will report to the Minister for Environment with recommendations as to whether the proposal should proceed, and, if so, under what conditions
Minister’s office - 6552 5800